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Meet Danielle (DENI) Salabarria of DENI in Duluth

Today we’d like to introduce you to Danielle (DENI) Salabarria.

Danielle, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I started this music thing pretty young. In middle school, I was in chorus and found it so fun to listen to songs on the radio and harmonize with them. I also found out in high school that I had something called “relative pitch”, which was the ability to hear notes and say what they were (C, Bb, etc.). My parents have been huge supporters my entire life and started me on guitar and voice lessons. When I was 14, me and my sister formed a duo called “Luna and Sol”, and began to gig everywhere around Georgia, from festivals to bars and everything in between. When high school rolled around, my sister chose a different path, and I went as the solo act, DENI. It’s a nickname I’ve had for a long time and assumed it would be easier to remember than my mouthful of a first and last name. I continued my music endeavors like chorus, marching band, gigging, and songwriting. I went to Belmont University to study Music Performance. After I graduated high school in 2014. After three years, I decided that I needed to move back to Atlanta and study a different field in music. In 2018, I started at the Atlanta Institute of Music and Media to study Audio Engineering. I want to be able to produce my own music and have it sound the way I want. I am currently enrolled as a student, gigging on the side, and am about to release my first original song on music streaming services.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
On the surface, there really is nothing special about me or my musical timeline.

On the surface, my story isn’t that unique. It was what was going on underneath my life that has given me a unique place in the universe. In 2018, I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. It’s common to hear how musicians often deal with mental issues. It’s what makes tapping into emotions while performing so easy for us. But it can also be what prevents us from achieving the goals we set for ourselves. My whole life I could never quite figure out why I couldn’t make it in the music industry. I feel like I would gain momentum only to have it fall off the moment things started getting tough. I came to realize that my stress and emotional tolerance was drastically lower than most. The long hours and rejection that comes with performing and recording always brought me back to an extremely dark place. The usual hardships that would come with life would send me into a long depression, one that would leak into my career and studies. It made me think I wasn’t meant to be a musician, even though it was the only skill I had going for me.

The time period between 2010 to now has been a rollercoaster of intense emotions and suicidal ideation. I believe people don’t like to talk about how mental health can pose real obstacles in one’s life. And I would be lying if I said that my BPD had no interaction with my music career and journey. Being alive today, recovering from my disorder, is something that I am extremely proud of and want to talk more about, despite the stigmas and judgments people have. I want other people who have similar struggles to be able to talk about it without being judged, to validate its impact on their lives and maturity progression. BPD has prevented me from getting on my feet and finding my place in this world, but it has also inspired my most passionate, impressive original songs. Wherever I may find myself in this industry, I want to make sure people know my true story and struggles. That way, they themselves can be inspired to embrace their mental disorders and be able to live their lives worth living.

What do you do, what do you specialize in, what are you known for, etc. What are you most proud of? What sets you apart from others?
I try to set myself apart from other solo musicians by having a very diverse setlist. I know pop, RnB, classic rock, alternative grunge, folk indie, Disney classics, jazz, and even some hip-hop. This diversity is what has enabled me to do so many gigs in different environments with different types of audiences. Alongside this, I am also a very experienced songwriter. I have worked on various projects with different people ranging from country to RnB. One of my goals is to sign with an entertainment company of some sort to write for many artists.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Being a student at the prestigious Belmont University would probably be my proudest moment. It’s not an easy school to get into, and also not easy to stay there. Even though I didn’t graduate, I studied there for 3 years and learned skills that I use to this day.

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Image Credit:

Just A Fan Photography, Bethany Long Photography, AIMM

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